Monday, April 24, 2006

Minimal sleep, procrastination, and cheerleaders.

For no particularly good reason, I went to bed last night at 2:30. This would not usually cause me much trouble these days; as a graduate student, my schedule is exceedingly flexible. (Besides, I'm most productive past midnight anyway.) However, silly me, I said I'd fill in at CFRC for the early-early-morning show, from 7 to 8. On the plus side, I got to play prog-rock to my heart's delight; I whimsically mixed in a couple of surprises, such as a cut from a 1965 Miles Davis album ("R.J.", off E.S.P.) and a song on which I played drums. On the negative side, I had to get up at 6. We'll see how long I go today before completely zonking-out; I'm guessing 3:30.

Originally, a friend of mine from Toronto was to come up Saturday and go home sometime Sunday, and I was to spend all day today at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. However, both of those events fell through for various reasons, and I was left with two full days of extra time on my hands. With a stack of papers to mark and revisions to do on my thesis, you'd think I'd be all over them like Bill O'Reilly on a Democrat. Whoops! You're wrong.

Speaking of conservative fuckwits... well, there are a lot of conservative fuckwits out there. I've gotten into the habit of occasionally reading a couple of blogs written by Americans who paint themselves the reddest-of-red, which is a curious colour to be associated with the Republican party, given red's past association with communism. At any rate, there are a lot of people out there who actually, honest-to-god, believe things that Fox News tells them.

(I know, I know. Feel free to take a minute and wrap your brain around that little nugget of trivia.)

From what I've seen, they all gleefully pat each other on the back, spout off lies about liberals, and invariably have their blogs festooned with red, white and blue banners of all shapes and sizes (but mostly large and flag-shaped). If you watch the Colbert Report, you know he does a nice job in satirizing that chunk of the American population... at the same time, though, it's bittersweet, because you know that people like that actually do exist.

Consider this for a moment, though: if someone were to mention the phrase "American Spirit," what comes to mind? For me, adjectives like "forthright," "bold," "adventuresome," "independent" and "eager" emerge. These are fine attributes, to be sure; people who embody these qualities who spring to mind readily include people such as Thomas Jefferson, Rosa Parks, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons.

The three people mentioned above also possess another quality: humility. T.J. was sort of a quirky guy, but was above all grounded; R.P. was a quiet bastion of unbelievable strength in the face of adversity; A.N. dutifully works the Kwik-E-Mart in order to make a better life for himself and his family. They're less concerned with how others perceive them and more focused on getting the job done.

The danger arises when people get completely wrapped up in the idea of Being American. It's all well and good to be proud of your countrymates, and be proud of the things you've accomplished together as a nation (the birth of modern democracy being a lovely example)... but when that pride turns to belligerent, cocky braggadocio, I'm sorry, you've gone a bit too far.

A chief component of this mindset is a lack of critical self-examination. I find that those who are the most rah-rah cheerleaders may think they look at themselves critically, but in the end it just ends up being a superficial pat on their own back, and a fresh set of Stars and Stripes lapel pins get affixed. They lash out at the "Blame America First" crowd... without ever thinking that, y'know what, the US might just be a little tiny bit to blame for, well, something.

I think this is as good a time as any to end this observation. If anyone who paints themselves neoconservative happens to come across this, I'd appreciate their (civilized) opinion on this perspective. But I'd hope they do the same thing I do when I get riled-up with their outlandish claims: go away for a while, simmer down, think things through, and formulate a reasoned argument. (Lord knows there's too little of that going on south of the 49th these days.)

1 comment:

Muffin said...